Category Archives: Media

Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova

~ Oasis

I was actually listening to “Killer Queen” (by Queen) this morning and for some reason this television show came to mind.  Maybe it was lines pertaining to Moët et Chandon in her pretty cabinet or the caviar and cigarettes -well versed in etiquette, but Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was one of the first television shows to actually feature the well-to-do.

It was truly an unprecedented time of growth and outrageous spending in the US as we bounced back from inflationary rates that had gripped the US for more than a few years. (At one point, the inflation rate was over 13%. E-gads.) I believe some of this was because of the 1973 stock market crash that came swiftly on the heels of the oil crisis and subsequent embargo by OPEC / the Middle East because of American aid to Israel. Long story short, they demanded higher prices and we paid. In fact, oil prices were pretty out of control until the mid 1980’s.

About the time the economy really started to settle down, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous hosted by Robin Leach came on the air. It was an inside look at the who’s who and who’s got what. Opulence was the name of the day and I believe it helped inspire a generation ore two to strive for “more.” After all, we could literally see what “more” was and it was a lot.

Now a strange thing happened in the midst of “Lifestyles” run that rocked the whole world.  I was just a high school senior , but I remember clearly the day the stock market crashed on “black Monday” – October 19,1987.  $500 billion dollars was lost on that one day alone. It was about a quarter of it’s estimated value at that time.  Here… let me put this into perspective courtesy of wiki for the visual learners out there.

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There were more than a few contributing factors to the crash including overvaluation and market psychology; however, one of the reasons the stock market rebounded as quickly as it did was because of the Savings and Loans. Oddly enough, the S&L business started to crash two years later because of horrible regulatory practices and that continued almost as long as “Lifestyles.” By the time the show ended, about a third of the S&L’s were toast.

Like a pendulum, the economy swings back and forth. But for whatever reason, it feels as though today the rest of the world has more of an impact on the American economy than American’s actually do.  In a post 9/11 universe, I have seen the European union struggle with problems such as Standard and Poor dropping Greece’s credit rating and the subsequent bailout, the Chinese stock market took a big hit last year and even Brexit has caused some shifting in the valuation of stocks. (Investors lost about $2 trillion US dollars last year alone during Brexit.)

So what does all this actually mean?  Well…I’m not sure, but the one thing I do know is numbers don’t lie and when you look at the DOW (Dow Jones Industrial Average) and the market ups and downs, it appears to my untrained eye that we are land-sliding into an economic supernova.

In the two generations since my senior year of high school, I realize more and more the folks who lived through the Great Depression in 1929, the subsequent decade of unheard of unemployment, the Dust Bowl and the years leading into WW2 learned to make due with much less than the excesses that came to be flaunted in the 1980’s and 90’s. I think it’s high time we all prepare the best we can for what feels like an uncertain future. After all, who will bail out the US if our economy tanks like it did almost 90 years ago? No one. That’s who.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da…

“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra…”
– The Beatles –

Remember vinyl records? I used to actually spin tunes on the radio when I was a young lass. 45’s and 33 1/3rds and carts. It was a true joy to be had. Thankfully I’m not old enough to have played 78’s. The transition to CD”s came later and now, everything in radio is pretty much computerized.

My love for radio and music in general came when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My sister had this small, orange AM/FM radio in the bathroom and also had a really cool stereo that had (gasp) a radio, phonograph and an 8 track player. She had  (and still does have) excellent taste in music and I grew up listening to everything from ABBA to Zappa and back again.

I finally moved from my little portable phonograph to a similar stereo system when I was 12. I thought it was the greatest invention ever. I listened to KPUR, Z-93 and the man, Casey Kasum, with a religious fervor. New wave blossomed and it was an age where guitars were somewhat being replaced with synthesizers. This was evident in groups such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Fixx, New Order Echo and the Bunnymen and the list goes on. Hair bands of the 1980’s came (and went) and music morphed into a kind of post-punk turned grunge era. Rap music really took on a whole new life and it also blossomed.

When I was 14, I did my first radio air shift and began cutting a few commercials and doing television voice over work. Pops owned an advertising agency and I was pretty cheap talent. By the time I was 18, I was in school to actually learn the business and I felt invincible on the air. However, I can say radio personalities are not invincible. The music industry and changes in how radio works (aka technology) made many great DJ’s obsolete.

Looking back, I’m so grateful my “first life” was filled with extraordinary experiences in the broadcast industry. From being a radio personality to news anchor to being a news technical director, I have been blessed beyond belief. To this day, I cherish the friendships I made in those early years when I was learning a bit about who I was and what I wanted out of life. (And I’m also thankful those folks do not hold the arrogance of youth against me.)

When I go back to my hometown, I occasionally get to get back on the radio for a few hours. There is something enchanting about doing something you love so much. And even though the technology has changed, the process of “being a good jock” hasn’t. The key is to let the world see you as you are and to let them in. After that, everything is gravy.

 

 

 

 

The Old Man and Me

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Photo Credit: Chaval Brasil via Compfight cc

I saw this picture earlier today and remembered my dad, the old man.  Pop’s spirit never waivered. Age never diminished his sense of humor nor did it take away his mind as it does many old men and women. As his youth faded, his back stooped and his steps became slower, shorter. Weight fell off of him in a way my fluffy frame could only envy. His eyes faded from blue to gray and time bleached his hair so that as he took his last breaths, it was as white as freshly fallen snow.

My father was born in 1918. I used to tell him he was born when dinosaurs roamed Earth and mentioned more than once I believed he must have had a pet stegosaurus named Clive.  Occasionally I’d regale him with tales of “Clive’s Amazing Adventures” which included WWI and WWII, a trip with Amelia Earhart, Clive’s Moonwalk, standing outside the Dakota with John Lennon and listening to Lou Gehrig say “goodbye” to name a few.

Pops was a story-teller and while some of these tales were outlandish, I think he enjoyed them and came right back with his tales steeped in historical truth.  He lived the events and his emotion brought those memories to life.

There’s a couple of reasons I wanted to speak about this today.

First, I got to thinking about all of the “old” characters in the movies, on television and in books. Frankly, there aren’t that many. I find they are few and far between. There is something that can be said about having an elderly character in a story – no matter what medium that character is in.  I would like to see more “old” characters in books, movies and on television and ones that are not the butt of the joke (which I’m truly afraid would happen on TV.)

Second is the “why” I would like to see them.  There are two reasons. One is because older characters bring a “wisdom” that generally does come with age. They have truly been there / done that and especially in books, sage advice is always a good thing. The other reason is for electronic media I think there is a lack of “aging actors.” Rene Russo said something along the lines when shooting Thor that when she came back to acting she was used to being the leading lady kissing all the gorgeous guys (Mel Gibson) and now she was playing Thor’s mother. What was wrong with that? Ageism exists in Hollywood and I would personally like to see the industry embrace older actors instead of shipping them out to pasture or limiting roles and scripts to what I consider are mundane or demeaning positions. There are exceptions, but seriously I must ask – how many actors over 65 (or 45 or 55) do you see on TV or in the movies?

My challenge to you today is when writing your piece, consider adding someone who is more advanced in years. You just might find they add something to your story that’s missing… color, wisdom and maybe my dad’s dinosaur, Clive, too.

What I Learned About Writing from America’s Next Top Model

“I’ve always seen modeling as a stepping stone.”

~Tyra Banks~

Photo Credit: Coralie Bilasimo (slowly catching up) via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Coralie Bilasimo (slowly catching up) via Compfight cc

Lately I’ve been binging on Hulu episodes of America’s Next Top Model. For some this may sound a bit bizarre. However, there is method behind the madness. I’ve been studying women and their personalities, interactions, expressions and movement for my characters. Not so bizarre now, eh?

So here’s some of what I’ve learned.

1) Even the most beautiful woman has flaws. In fact, her flaws are what give her depth and help the reader (viewer) connect to her. Without imperfections, the female character is flat and lifeless and has no opportunity to learn, change and grow.  Who wants that?  ANTMs need to learn how to do the job. They aren’t good at what they do. This means my characters don’t need to be “Miss Perfect.”  In making mistakes, an inner character is built.

2) There can be only one.  The show generally starts out with thirteen girls and through the process of competition and elimination there is a final winner. At some point it becomes pretty clear who the front-runners are and who the finalists/winner will be. If you have a female lead character, you must do the same thing. Other characters shouldn’t over-shadow your protagonist / antagonist. If they do, you need to beef up her/their presence.

3) ANTM points out with the model’s pictures there is a fine line between couture / sexy and “hootchie/ghetto.”  Sex may sell, but unless you are writing erotica, your female main character shouldn’t always be in situations that have to deal with sex. Other characters shouldn’t always be talking about her body, the way her clothes fit her body or the way she uses her body.

4) A woman has more emotional range than a gnat. They aren’t “always” crying, bitchy or what have you. I love Tyra Bank’s expression “smize” – smiling with the eyes. I love this photo because it shows this “emotion” beautifully. Your character can do this many different ways. What does your characters’ eyes say about them?  Can you portray body language on the page to “show don’t tell?” It’s a valuable tool.

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Photo Credit: kinojam via Compfight cc

5)  Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Women handle relationships MUCH differently than men. We catch nuances in conversation and read into situations that most men wouldn’t catch if it were handed to them on a silver platter. If you aren’t a “people watcher,” go to a restaurant and eavesdrop on a group of women having lunch / dinner. Watch the body language and facial expression while listening to how they speak with and to each other. Then, do the same thing with a group of men. Night and day.  Mars and Venus.

I’m sure there is more valuable information that may be gleaned from America’s Next Top Model. After all I’ve only watched the first 10 seasons. I believe there are at least 10 more to go.